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The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45
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The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  30,124 ratings  ·  619 reviews
The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty ...more
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published 1999 by Victor Gollancz (first published 1946)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Samadrita
This is the first time I am reviewing a book that I have tried and failed to rate.

How do I decide on a rating anyway? Should I judge the prose? the content? the author's style of presentation? his narrative voice? the quality of the translation?
Do I even have the right to?

Awarding a star rating to this man's unbelievably harrowing and miraculous tale of surviving a war which claimed the lives of 6 million of his fellow brethren for no reason at all, seems a more sacrilegious act than calling In
...more
Cheryl
An entry by Wilm Hosenfeld, a Nazi officer assigned to the Warsaw ghetto.

"God has allowed evil to come about because man has espoused it, and now we are beginning to feel the burden of our own evil and imperfections. When the Nazis came to power, we did nothing to stop them; we betrayed our own ideals. Ideals of personal, democratic and religious freedom. The workers went along with the Nazis and the Church stood by and watched, the middle classes were too cowardly to do anything, and so were t
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I've read a lot about World War II, but I'd never fully grasped the complete destruction, the utter devastation of the city of Warsaw. Hitler was like a bratty child with a toy he'd rather destroy than share with anyone else. When he knew he was going to lose the war, he ordered that Warsaw be reduced to rubble. Among the ruins there was a Jewish musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who had managed to survive for six years, and a German named Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Szpilman's life one last time. ...more
Merna
I loved The Pianist for a number of reasons, but the supreme reason goes to Władysław Szpilman's storytelling. Szpilman writes down the struggles he had endured to survive when Warsaw was under occupation by the Nazis. Władysław voice never grows bitter, plus his emotions never twist to abhorrence, and it’s why, I find myself respecting him so admirably. His story was in no means out of hatred or disgust. His intention was not to spit political statements about WWII. As mentioned on the title, i ...more
Dem
The Pianist by Written immediately after the war by survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman. This book was suppressed for decades. The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and tells the story of the horrendous events that took place in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the Jewish ghetto.

This is quite a short book but it certainly packs a punch. You can almost feel the urgency of the writer to get his story down on paper and yet the story is told in such a way that you feel a confidence and a clarity th
...more
RJ Corby
I became interested in reading "The Pianist" after seeing the excellent movie, directed by Roman Polanski, that was based on the book. After thoroughly enjoying the movie, I had very high hopes for this tome, and I was not disappointed. This book is a stunner, bringing to life the horrific conditions and brutality that Wladyslaw Szpilman endured to survive six years of Nazi brutality in Warsaw, Poland.

What's truly amazing about this book is how Szpilman tells the story with a sense of detachment
...more
Carmo Santos
Este é o testemunho de Vladyslaw Szpilman: cidadão polaco, músico de profissão e judeu. Era também filho, irmão e amigo. Quando acabou a guerra já não tinha irmãos nem pais, e a maioria dos amigos tinha morrido às mãos dos nazis. Sofreu na pele desde os primeiros dias da invasão, foi perseguido e resistiu até aos últimos dias de aniquilação total. Assistiu à destruição da sua cidade, Varsóvia, viu os judeus confinados a um gueto imundo, sujeitos a uma imensa carnificina, desapossados dos seus be ...more
Ryan
Wladyslaw Szpilman was a trained pianist, a Pole, and a Jew, and in The Pianist, he explains how he survived World War II in the Warsaw Ghetto. It sounds like the sort of book you'd want your kids to read in high school, so I was surprised to learn that The Pianist was a "banned" book.

You can believe the subtitle: this memoir of "one man's survival" is indeed extraordinary. The Jews within the ghetto were killed by the German police, they died of hunger, and they were gathered into cattle cars a
...more
Oana
First, I need to mention that I have seen the movie before reading the book, and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it changed my life, hopefully turning me into a better person. I’m at a loss of words in expressing what a masterpiece the movie is, and how Roman Polanski (a Holocaust survivor himself) is the God Almighty of directing.

With that out of the way, I’m adding that I was perfectly aware that the book couldn’t possibly be as good as this majestic movie, whereas it is a Holoca
...more
Diane S.
As always these books are so incredibly hard to read, not just to read but to understand how these cruelties could have ever happened. This book was different in that it was not only written by someone in Poland who survived the Holocaust, but someone who probably only survived because of the help of a German officer.

Excerpts from this officer's diary are included in the back of the book as are explanatory notes tying everything together. The tome of the book is rather matter of fact, since it
...more
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karo
I read The Pianist in the original Polish, but the book will read well in any language. As Szpilman's son writes in the preface to the book, his father was not a writer, and the memoir is a testament to that fact. There is no overly flowerly language, no planned-out metaphors. The Pianist is simply a factual account of the mirculous events which lead to Wladyslaw Szpilman surviving first the Warsaw ghetto and later hiding out in Warsaw for years until the war ended. I learned quite a bit about l ...more
Debby
It was a little hard to read this after having watched the superlative film, as it was not nearly so dramatic, and I had trouble not quibbling with the license that the filmmakers took with Szpilman's story. Given what Szpilman went through, it's a surprisingly unemotional narrative. It helps to know that it was written fairly soon after the war ended, when he may still have been feeling rather detached from his experience (as he would have to have been to have survived). The most affecting part ...more
Anoud
يا إلهي .. كمية الفظائع التي فعلها الألمان لليهود ! التشريد و القتل و الاظطهاد ، ربّاه ، كان مبكيا فعلا
الكتاب/الفيلم هم سيرة شخصية للموسيقي اليهودي شيزلمان .. حيث يوضح الكتاب مقدار اظطهاد الإلمان و نظام هتلر لليهود ، بعد أن تشرد شيزلمان الرجل المسالم لسنوات ، و بعد أن قتل ما قتل من اليهود بوحشية مطلقة وظل يعيش وحده في شقه مقفلة دون أن يخرج أو يصدر أي صوت لسنين خوف أن يجده الجنود الألمان .. ربّاه ، هل يمكن تصور الرعب النفسي الذي كان يمر به ؟

كتاب سيرة و كتاب تاريخي ، جميل حقا حقا حقا ، أنصح جدا
...more
Charlie Rittner
The Pianist is a book written by Wladyslaw Szpilman and his experiences during World War II. Wlady was a famous pianist who would play in a cafe in Warsaw, Poland as the rest of the city would listen to him play on the radio. Just like most of Poland Germany started to take it over. They started to approach Warsaw but people did not leave the city. The Germans took over the city and set new rules, nobody was allowed out at night. One night Wlady was caught outside at night but was freed because ...more
Catarina
Jun 15, 2014 Catarina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catarina by: Inês Beato
Depois de ter lido tanta coisa sobre o Holocausto, achei que a história d’ “O Pianista” não me chocaria. Felizmente, chocou, o que mostra que a minha mente e o meu coração ainda não se habituaram a ler sobre todas as atrocidades cometidas durante a 2ª Guerra Mundial.

Szpilman conta-nos a sua história de forma pouco afectada e humilde, como se não estivesse a sentir e a recordar tudo aquilo de que fala. Não chegou a ver um dos campos de concentração e extermínio de Hitler, mas toda a sua família p
...more
Mmars
Really 3.5

This is a short account of one Jewish man’s survival in Warsaw during WWII. According to the epilogue, he wrote his account down shortly after the ordeal had ended. It is told in a very matter-of-fact manner, yet I still found it compelling.

His survival is no less than remarkable. Many, many times one other action by either the oppressors or him would have meant certain death. Not only this, but he spent several years in near isolation. Often, his only contact or news of the outside
...more
Michael
Feb 24, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World War II Buffs, Military buffs, History students
Recommended to Michael by: Chad Bryant
Shelves: fascism, memoirs
Although I'm a serious student of fascist history, I don't read many Holocaust memoirs. For one thing, I'm more inclined to understand these events from a more scholarly angle, through secondary studies. For another, I'm really more interested in the mindset and motivations of the perpetrators than the victims - the victims are just people like anyone, caught in a terrible situation, while the perpetrators are the ones who require some serious analysis to figure out. Finally, when it really come ...more
Sam
I picked this up after a friend lent me the film, which by the way was amazing, and I was not disappointed at all. Szpilman tells of his experiences in such a way that it is easy to read, despite the horrific subject matter, and that takes you to the heart of his story without overwhelming you with the events and emotions of the time. Szpilman has a kind of emotional detachment that reminds me of Levi Primo’s work. This detachment allows the reader to experience what he did in a way where surviv ...more
Phyllis
A very sorrowful book. I don't know if today's generation of young people can appreciate the horrors of that time given all the Hollywood movies and their special effects and all the violent games for play. For me the violence wasn't the worst part; the most chilling part was neighbor turned against neighbor, family member against family member, adults against children, people against other people justifying what they were doing for more than survival, for pleasure, for purpose, for a larger des ...more
Eslammohammed
Humanly, set aside any other aspects, a distinguished autobiography of one of the finest musicians of all times Wladyslaw Szpilman,

An epic movie based uopn by the GENIUS Roman Polanski & the handsome, elegant actor Adriano Brody...

Abook needs to be read...

Amovie, no question, deserves to be watched...
pax
Das ist kein einfaches Buch zu lesen, sowohl inhaltlich als auch von der Schreibweise her: hier schreibt kein Schriftsteller, sondern ein Augenzeuge, der sich darum bemüht, etwas kaum fassbares in Worte zu fassen. Manchmal scheitert er, weil vieles eben nicht vermittelbar ist, ohne es selbst erlebt zu haben (und dies wünscht man niemandem) - manchmal reicht ein Wort, eine Satz, um den Leser unaussagbares spüren zu lassen. Deswegen: Lest es! Auch wenn es keine schriftstellerische Meisterleistung ...more
Abdel Majid Kassir
One of my best so far!!!
I would put it in the second place after To Kill a Mockingbird in my favorites list.
zoe
Szpilman is not an author; he wrote what happened to him between 1939 and 1945 soon after the war ended, with everything still fresh in his mind.
I found he wrote with a blasé indifference, almost as if he were writing on behalf of someone else. He doesn't seem to show any want for revenge, any particular anger at what happened to him, just wrote it like a statement, and moved on. However I found him most passionate when it came to his family.
I found it moving and rather incredible that he surv
...more
Julie
I just finished the last page of this Holocaust memoir during a rare silence in my house, which matched the spirit of this book and the sob in my throat.

But, let me back up for a moment.

I watched the movie "The Pianist" when it originally premiered and basically went into the fetal position as it ended and again pronounced "No more Holocaust movies for me." But, as our son is preparing to audition on piano for colleges in the fall, this movie came back to my mind, and I remembered that "The Pian
...more
Katie
I read this in all of about 9 hours. A fascinating story made all the more surreal by the part a nazi officer played in Szpilman's rescue. It's unbelieveable that WWII happened a mere 65 years ago. I wonder how hard it would be to stand up to institutionalized evil in this day and age?
Paula
I read 'The Pianist' when I first heard about the film adaptation being released (it was a few years before I actually saw the film) and the book has always stayed with me. The strength of Wladyslaw is inspiring and heartbreaking as he lives with his world changing from losing his job, his home because he and his family are Jewish, moving to the ghetto to narrowly escaping the train which takes his family away, never to be seen again.

I enjoyed 'The Pianist' from start to finish, it's such a tho
...more
Dipankar
I am having trouble rating this book. If I compare his prose with those of superstars like Marquez, Szpilman pales. But I didn't care, even for a second, about the quality of his prose while I ravaged through this book in no time. All I ever thought of while reading was how in the world did it take me so long to get around to read this book, when this is clearly something every literate being of Earth must read. So it'll be foolish on my part to even compare any part of this literature with any ...more
Lisa Cook
I love Holocaust memoirs. There's something to be said about a story that is so captivating, so riveting, so truthful that the writing doesn't matter because the content speaks for itself. I originally picked up this book as required reading for an honors music class my sophomore year of college - oh, Deborah Wong - don't ask. I never got around to it at the time because that class was a ridiculous waste of my life, but I always knew that I'd love it whenever I finally did manage to pick it up. ...more
Cassidy Lebert
Wladyslaw Szpilman’s the Pianist was a truly remarkable story of one man’s survival. The vivid descriptions make you feel like you are actually hiding in the flats of the Warsaw ghetto alongside Szpilman. The torture in which the Jews had to endure is heartbreaking. Reading the conditions these people had to go through is horrible, yet eye opening to what life during this time of war was like. The emotion with in this novel jumps off the page
The Pianist is an auto biography of Wladyslaw Szpilma
...more
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Polish pianist, composer and memoirist.
Szpilman is widely known as the protagonist of the Roman Polański film The Pianist , which is based on his autobiographical book recounting how he survived the Holocaust. In November 1998 Władysław Szpilman was honoured by the president of Poland with a Kommandor Order with a Star of Polonia Restituta.
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More about Władysław Szpilman...
The Pianist & Taking Sides My Memories of You: Sixteen Selected Songs by the Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman

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“And now I was lonelier, I supposed, than anyone else in the world. Even Defoe's creation, Robinson Crusoe, the prototype of the ideal solitary, could hope to meet another human being. Crusoe cheered himself by thinking that such a thing could happen any day, and it kept him going. But if any of the people now around me came near I would need to run for it and hide in mortal terror. I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.” 36 likes
“Lying is the worst of all evils. Everything else that is diabolical comes from it.” 20 likes
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